In my opinion, letting go is more burdensome than loss for the simple fact that loss is almost entirely out of your control (whether it be a death brought on by an exact thing or the universe telling you that a person is no longer serving you any purpose) and letting go is almost entirely in your control. To let go is to reach a state of mind that allows you to set a person and the feelings attached to said person free. There’s a heavy weight that gets dropped on you when you lose someone, and that weight remains until you can muster up the courage and strength to break free. People will tell you that loss gets easier with time and that’s only true because during that time (however long you may need) you learn to let go. Each day you learn to stand up a little taller, smile a little more, and open your heart a little wider.
“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” (Unknown)
To let go is to accept the change and become accustomed to it through your own free will. People often fill the void of loss with things or other people, both of which serve as a bandage over a hole; eventually, when the bandage is gone (and one day it will be), you’re still left with the hole. It’s easy to convince the world and temporarily yourself that you’re fine. You can go through the motions of life, laughing and participating and showing up, but you’ll never be okay if you can’t sit alone with yourself at night and not feel that weight pulling at you. You have to find it in yourself to swim back up to the surface and gasp in that air you’re in such desperate need of.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” (Mark Twain)
To let go is to forgive. Forgive the person who left you, hurt you, bored you. Forgive their flaws that pushed you away and forgive their efforts or lack thereof to revive what was too late. Let them be; don’t spend your time and energy questioning them and their choices that put you in a position to have to let go. More importantly, forgive yourself. Forgive your mistakes and your flaws and your choices. Forgive your heart for pushing and your head for forcing. Be open to the idea that forgiveness is a form of healing, and recognize that to let go is also to heal yourself, as corny and spiritual that may sound.
Here are a few things that have personally helped me heal:
- Be alone. The only way to scratch the surface of recovery is to understand that it’s a singular, selfish act (that you absolutely owe to yourself, by the way).
- Change your state of mind. Realize two things: the world does not owe you a damn thing, you don’t owe the world (or anyone in it) a damn thing.
- Find your happy places. I have found mine: in a cup of steaming coffee, in a window seat, in a car with the windows down, in a really good playlist, and in this blog. My happy place is not a person, and yours shouldn’t be either.
- Engage in your happy places. If you’re sad, drink some coffee with a nice window view and a bangin’ playlist floating around you. Take a long drive with your windows down, hair in a tangled mess, blasting my Spotify playlist below (trust me on this). Sit down and pour your thoughts out of a pen for no one but yourself, and throw it away when you’re done.
“You come home, make some tea, sit in your armchair, and all around there’s silence. Everyone decides for themselves whether that’s loneliness or freedom.” (Unknown)
To let go is to set your demons free. They come in all different forms: they’re in your head and heart, they’re in other people, they’re in past relationships, they’re in a bad day at work. They’re doubt and regret and sadness and anger. They’re in the what if’s and the could have been’s and the why me’s. And to that I say:
To every “what if” there is an opposing “what if.” You’ll drive yourself mad wondering what if I’d stayed, what if I’d left, what if I’d tried, what if I gave up; they’re never ending. You were either given a new hand or dealt it to yourself, and either way you have to come to accept it and move forward. Continuing to question your decisions means you continue to let yourself sink into that darkness, and that’s no bueno.
Questioning why did I do this, why did I have to go through this, or why me can all be shut down in one simple answer: because you’re stronger than you’ll ever believe and you wouldn’t take anything on if there wasn’t even a tiny bit of you that was sure you were going to be just fine. Hold on to that little piece of yourself, because that’s the part that’s going to get you out of this alive.
Here’s the thing about could-have-been’s: they’re nonexistent. They’re a pitiful way to try to console yourself after a loss by convincing yourself that you missed out on something great, when in turn you have intentionally been removed from a situation that was no longer bringing you any joy or growth. There is no could have been, there’s only a what was and a what is to come.
“One day you’ll make peace with your demons, and the chaos in your heart will settle flat, and maybe for the first time in your life, life will smile right back at you and welcome you home.” (R.M. Drake)
And that’s the beauty of learning to let go: it opens up the world for you. The lights come on full blast, the music vibrates into your soul, and the colors saturate in a way you’d never think possible. Be sure to open up in return; open yourself up to a new wave of life filled with new people and new experiences. I’m damn sure that life will smile right back at you and welcome you home.
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